September 15th, 2006

abstract butterfly

small mountains

I've always loved living in the Dallas area, which is a surprisingly easy place to live--affordable suburbs, friendly people, a kind of "can do" attitude.

Dallas is in a "transition area" between prairie to the west and woodlands to the the north and east. The terrain here is largely flat, with lots of open spaces, and yet too many trees for that real west Texas "open spaces and endless plain" look that appeals so much.

I went to college in the Ozark Mountains, and spent spare law school Saturdays in the Ouachita Mountains. One day in the 1980s, I found myself at my office on a Saturday, hankering for mountains.
I looked up on a map the nearest mountains, which proved to be the Arbuckle range in southern Oklahoma, right up the freeway. It's only a couple of hours (or a couple and a half) from Dallas.
They're ancient mountains, rocky and undulating. In southern California they'd be called hills.
I remember driving through the small range, and being captivated by the bowling ball shapes and
the craggy trees on craggy rocky elevations. I stopped at a wildlife park on a Sunday. I held a bucket of corn out my window for a passing giraffe.

Everywhere billboards proclaimed a broken cookie factory. I never found it. I have never hunted a fountain of youth, but a broken cookie factory has been my lifelong quest.

I am not a snob about mountains. I am almost a reverse snob, because I believe it is so essential to love varied terrains, and I am a devotee of our stark north Texas landscapes, so familiar and yet so odd.

But sometimes it's good to breathe air exhaled from little mountains, the kind of mountains from Wales or Middle Earth or Oklahoma. Obscure, mysterious hills. Undiscovered small planets, of the density of cork, orbiting unknown stars.